How to Influence People

Shereen Sikka Bharwani is a Maybelline ‘It Girl’ and one of the global influencers for the make­up giant that flew her to New York to capture the zeitgeist of contemporary fashion on America’s eastern seaboard, reports Economic Times. Dove chose her for its real beauty campaign, while Jet Airways signed her on for the London Fashion Week. The 29 ­year ­old Bharwani is no movie star or sports celebrity, however. She is among the swelling ranks of young social media users who are creating careers leveraging platforms such as Instagram and YouTube. They are the latest campaign managers for product categories as diverse as fashion, food, fitness, beauty, or music, and are harnessing content to influence consumers. “I started off on social media platforms as a regular consumer, but when I started blogging, I saw the potential of such social media platforms such as Instagram and thought of harvesting this opportunity for promoting my blog content that had a further outreach,” said Bharwani, a former fashion stylist. With more than 1 lakh followers on Instagram, Bharwani’s brand portfolio includes Audi, Jaguar, and Burberry.

Social media experts say there has been a phenomenal rise in such ‘influencer’ accounts and channels in India over the past year. Aditya Gupta, cofounder of iGenero, said about 50% of the brands now use micro influencers for their new product launches through Facebook Live, InstaIt’s Trending of the brands now use micro influencers for their new product launches shift is attributed to the wider reach and cost efficiency of micro influencers categories are fashion, beauty and food an increase in demand for ‘niche’ influencers gram stories and Youtube videos. “This paradigm shift is attributed to the wider reach and cost efficiency of micro influencers. At iGenero, we have seen a rise of 23% in the number of influencers in our database in just the past 12 months,” said Gupta. “The main categories are fashion, beauty and food. About 5% of overall marketing budgets were spent on influencer marketing in 2011. Now it’s about 15%,” said Zafar Rais, CEO of Mindshift Interactive.

Mindshift Interactive has worked with Instagram accounts like Mumbai Food Lovers and Spankiet by former food writer Ankiet Gulabani. “They do excellent work on what food is meant to be. That’s creating an interesting paradigm shift for our brands as well,” Rais added. Instagram and YouTube did not respond to mails seeking comments. There are about 200 key Instagram influencers that L’Oreal works with across its various brands. Their make­up artistry brand NYX was the first in the category to be launched online in India last year, and the company relied heavily on influencers for its promotion. “For NYX, we are more selective and have a mix of 50­60 bloggers. While most have a growing presence on Instagram, the top 50 we work with would be stronger, with over 75,000 followers,” said Shalini Raghavan, chief marketing officer, consumer products division, L’Oreal India. Shreya Jain, 22, is one of them. She has 130,000 and 177,000 followers on Instagram and YouTube, respectively, and calls herself a make­up and skincare blogger.

Online cosmetics portal Nykaa and jewelry brand Voylla say influencers help them target mass audiences who find them more relatable as opposed to celebrities. “We have a focused approach to get influencers on board. Fashion jewelry is a visual category. These are real people and help us connect well with our target group,” said Jagrati Shringi, cofounder, Voylla. Hitesh Malhotra, chief marketing officer at Nykaa said such influencers work well for e­retailers like him as people seek knowledge and opinions on products when they browse online. The backgrounds of these influencers cut across categories. An MBA and a former marketing manager with Franchise India, Aarushi Jain, 25, started her YouTube channel in October 2015. There is This paradigm.

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